The ears are a sensitive subject for many prospective patients, even children as young as 6 years old. Adults and children alike can find solutions to their ear troubles with otoplasty, or ear surgery. This procedure can improve a patient’s self-confidence and boost their self-image by making subtle but powerful changes to the shape, size and even projection of the ears. If you’ve been complaining about your ears or your child has been getting teased, it’s time to learn more about this procedure and the top questions prospective patients like you have.
What Is an Otoplasty?
Otoplasty is a surgery designed to reshape, resize, and/or reposition the ears. A wide scope of changes are possible through this procedure, sometimes called simply ear surgery. Patients of otoplasty can achieve a more natural look for their ears, fixing their protruding ears, resizing overly large ears, or reshaping damaged or malformed ears. When these patients undergo the procedure, they often experience a boost to their self-esteem thanks to a healthier opinion of their ears and their entire appearance.
Consult with a facial plastic surgeon to design the right look for your ears after otoplasty. By using VECTRA 3D imaging software, you’ll be able to see a 3D photo of yourself as the surgeon makes hypothetical changes to the size and shape of your ears. Working together, you can design the right procedure that will achieve all of your desired results.
What Happens During Otoplasty Surgery?
Every otoplasty procedure is tailor-made to suit the needs of the patient, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to this surgery. Generally speaking, most otoplasty procedures last about two hours and will be performed under either general or local anesthesia with sedation. Otoplasty surgeries usually begin with an incision placed behind the ear or ears, through which changes can be made to the cartilage and skin of the ear. Your facial plastic surgeon will be able to manipulate the structure of the ear to achieve your desired results.
If you are having your ears pinned to reduce their projection, your otoplasty will include permanent sutures at the back of the ear. These will not be visible but they will keep the ear in place, at a more pleasing angle to the head. Any incisions will then be closed and the procedure will be over. The exact scope of your otoplasty will be determined through a consultation with your facial plastic surgeon.
How Extensive Is Recovery From Otoplasty Surgery?
Because otoplasty can be performed on such a wide age range of patients, there is a lot of talk about the pain, discomfort, and requirements following the surgery. Most patients leave the clinic or hospital on the same day as their procedure, wearing a special head bandage to support the ears. You will be asked to wear this for about 24 hours, before it is removed at a follow-up appointment on the next day. Your ear bandages will be changed and these must be worn for about three or four days. At your next follow-up, usually about a week after surgery, your stitches will be removed and your bandages will be changed again.
Pain experienced after an otoplasty surgery tends to be fairly mild. You will be given pain medication to manage your discomfort. Cold compresses, keeping your head elevated, and other recovery tips can help you to take your pain relief a step further. Discuss your concerns about recovery and pain management with your facial plastic surgeon, who will be able to give you advice specific to your surgical needs.
What Is Scarring Life After Otoplasty?
Every surgical patient worries about scarring after their procedure; it’s only natural to worry that the positive changes made in surgery will be obvious to everyone because of unwanted scars. With otoplasty, however, those fears aren’t necessary. The incisions made to make corrections to the ears during an otoplasty procedure tend to be placed out of sight automatically. Your facial plastic surgeon will carefully place the incisions behind your ear, either in the hairline or within a natural fold of the skin. Anyone who finds your scars from otoplasty has to be really, really looking for them.
Your actual ears will not be cut during the procedure, so you don’t have to worry about scars in plain sight. Cartilage and tissue can be shifted around through the incisions behind the ear, making this surgery as discrete as possible. While the changes made to your ears will be obvious in all the right ways, the surgical procedure you’ve had won’t be noticed at all.
What Makes a Good Candidate for Otoplasty?
Whether you’re considering otoplasty for yourself or for a child, a good candidate for this surgery should have concerns about their ear shape, size, or projection. These patients, or their parents, should have a clear understanding of what the ear surgery process is all about and what results can be reasonably expected. Above all, they must have a desire to improve their appearance by making corrections to their ears.
If otoplasty sounds like a good fit for you or your child, a good candidate must also meet certain criteria in order to be eligible for surgery. You should be in good overall health without any conditions that could delay aging. You should also be a non-smoker, as nicotine and tobacco use can lead to harmful side effects and complications during and after any surgery. Adults and children (as young as age 6) can be good candidates for otoplasty, but each prospective patient will be assessed on an individual basis to determine their own eligibility and surgical needs.
Start Planning Your Otoplasty Today
For corrective ear surgery that is safe and effective, consult with an experienced, credentialed facial plastic surgeon to plan your otoplasty procedure. Dr. Ran Y. Rubinstein has been practicing in the Hudson Valley for more than 14 years and specializes in facial plastic surgery, nasal, and sinus disorders. He uniquely combines his medical and surgical expertise to help patients feel better and look better. He holds dual board-certification from the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery and is an Assistant Professor at New York Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.